Small Computing

How-to: Apple Aluminum Keyboard in Windows

Ok, this isn’t netbook or tablet computer or anything like that related, so sue me. A theoretical situation: you buy an Apple Aluminum Keyboard (because they’re cool) and aren’t using an Apple computer. How do you get it to actually work in Windows? You poked around on Google which turned up some good ideas, but either the files were old or the method didn’t work, so here’s how make your shiny (well, it’s really sort-of matte) new Apple Aluminum Keyboard work in Windows.

The first step is to get a hold of a Leopard disc (or the Boot Camp drivers package).

Pop the disc in your drive while you’re in Windows and jump right into the “Boot Camp” directory.

See the “setup.exe” file in the “Boot Camp” directory? Copy that to your desktop*.

Go into the “Drivers” directory and then the “Apple” directory.

Copy the “AppleKeyboardInstaller.exe” and “BootCamp.msi” (or “BootCamp64.msi” if you’re running XP 64/Vista 64) to your desktop.

Here’s the important part. If you try to install these two files by themselves, it’s likely you can install the keyboard drivers but the control panel (that’s the “BootCamp.msi” file which adds the functionality of those media keys) may fight you because it relies upon another file.

Here’s what to do. Create some random directory on your desktop and move that “setup.exe” file into it. Go into said directory. Create a new directory called “Drivers” and go into that. Create a directory in there called “Apple” and move the remaining two files (keyboard drivers and Boot Camp control panel) into the “Apple” directory.

Go back to the random directory’s root and run the setup.exe file. Follow through the installation. Reboot. Open your favorite media player (but apparently not Winamp) and test the media keys. Hooray! You have a functional keyboard in Windows! (Even eject!)

Obviously, you don’t need Windows (or technically the DVD if you found the Boot Camp drivers elsewhere) to rip the files and create the directory structure, but I won’t get into the possible legalities of all of this except to say, I hope Apple won’t come down on you for wanting to use their groovy keyboard, but they do like to be picky about certain things like proprietary drivers. Theoretically, of course.

Side note: a firmware update was released in April to update the keyboard for miscellaneous fixes, but that requires OS X to run. I have no idea if the keyboards in stores now ship with this updated firmware or not, so fair warning that you may need to borrow a Mac to install that.

There’s multiple setup.exe files. This one is the only file in the directory. If you see the autorun.inf or other files, you have the wrong setup.exe. Further clarification: the correct setup.exe is roughly 260KB in size. If you don’t see the “Drivers” directory in the same location as the setup.exe, you’re in the wrong place. Try again.

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